Thunderbirds rout defending state champion Logan.
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When the news came late last week that the Timpview Thunderbirds would lose their Region 8 title and have to open the Class 4A football playoffs on the road, offensive line coach Mike Bakken delivered the words that were immortalized on a sign in the visitors' bleachers Friday afternoon and may frame another state championship for the Provo school.
"We'll play anyone, anywhere, anytime!" Bakken declared, while the players were working out. The T-birds responded enthusiastically that afternoon, and they were even more emphatic Friday in a 49-14 rout of defending champion Logan.
"From there, it just built up," said Timpview quarterback Jake Lloyd. "I guess it's our motto now."
Guilty of using an ineligible player, Timpview was relegated to a No. 3 seed and forced to play its first two postseason games on the road. In turn, that meant the T-birds were not the only victims of the Utah High School Activities Association's ruling.
After Logan surrendered four touchdown passes from Lloyd to 6-foot-5 receiver Dax Raymond, it was only natural to feel sorry for the Grizzlies, having to face such an overwhelming opponent in the first round.
This was not the ending that prolific quarterback Luke Falk hoped for, having transferred back home from a California school for his senior season. Falk could have used the recruitment showcase of a playoff run, instead of sitting alone on the bench as his backup played out the last few minutes with a running clock, out of mercy for the former champs.
"We got dealt not a very good hand," Logan coach Mike Favero said, "and we weren't able to bluff anybody."
Not when Timpview's rush was disrupting Logan's usually efficient passing game, Lloyd was delivering the ball accurately, running back Gregson Aspinall was pounding the Grizzlies and Timpview was answering every Logan attempt to seize momentum.
Raymond's 10-yard touchdown catch with two seconds remaining in the first half was huge. So was Britain Covey's 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, after Logan cut the lead to 27-14 in the third quarter. Timpview also intercepted three of Falk's passes, recovered a fumble and made a fourth-down stop at its 12-yard line in the second quarter.
The T-birds next will visit Woods Cross, which was elevated to Region 6's No. 1 seed because of the ineligibility issues involving top-ranked East. Timpview coach Cary Whittingham already is framing that as a "trap" game, with the prospect of facing East in the semifinals the following week.
Judging by Friday's dominant performance, an effort spoiled only by 132 penalty yards, the T-birds will be ready.
Timpview's offense racked up 547 total yards and the defense forced three three-and-out sequences in the third quarter, when the outcome was in question.
Whittingham, Timpview's first-year coach, liked his players' response to a challenging situation. "They focused very well. They came and did what they needed to do," Whittingham said. "We try to keep the drama out of it, try to not talk about that so much, so that they don't have to think about it."
Before the game, a referee reminded the timekeeper that a running clock would be used if one team led by 35 points. Each then shook his head, while suggesting that was highly unlikely.
But it happened in the last five minutes Friday. The defending champs were left to wonder if they were treated unfairly, while recognizing the reality that winning another title eventually would have required beating the T-birds or somebody like them.